Legislature passes Saldaña bill

Law enforcement, firefighters can hire legal permanent residents

— The Washington State House of Representatives Tuesday, Feb. 27, approved Senate Bill 6145, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle.

The bill, passed by a vote of 84-14, modernizes local and state employment practices by allowing law enforcement and firefighting agencies to hire any legal residents in the U.S. An estimated 260,000 residents of Washington would be newly eligible to apply for civil service jobs as a result of this bill.

“This legislation allows our first responder agencies to more effectively advance public safety by allowing them to hire from a larger pool of qualified multi-cultural, multi-lingual workers and ensures that those in public service better reflect the broader diversity of our communities,” Saldaña said.

The measure would enable law enforcement agencies to build departments more reflective of the communities they protect. It was brought forward by King County and supported by numerous cities, OneAmerica, the Washington State Patrol and others.

“The people of King County are served best when they are served by a workforce as diverse as the county itself,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “Those who would serve and protect our communities with honor will now have the opportunity to do so. In sharp contrast with the federal government, we are expanding opportunities and embracing all that our residents have to offer.”

“I fully support SB 6145 and applaud Sen. Saldaña and Rep. Stokesbary for sponsoring this important piece of legislation,” King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht said. “Allowing lawful permanent residents to work in law enforcement will enhance our pool of job applicants to better reflect the growing and diverse communities we serve.”

“In the face of increased and often excessive federal immigration enforcement over the past year, immigrant communities need to trust their local law enforcement professionals and departments more than ever,” King County Council Chair Joe McDermott said. “Hiring more people representing diverse communities will go a very long way to continuing the good work already in place to build this vital trust. Sen. Saldaña, Rep. Stokesbary and their colleagues did a wonderful thing by passing this legislation, and Washington residents will be safer thanks to their effort."

Having already passed the Senate by a vote of 31-17, Senate Bill 6145, is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. Rep. Stokesbary, R-Auburn, introduced a similar measure in the House.

“This legislation builds trust by allowing police forces to better mirror the citizens they’re protecting and serving,” Stokesbary said. “It is also an issue of fairness. Our neighbors who have put on the military uniform to defend our country and freedoms should be able to protect us in our communities as police officers and firefighters. I am pleased to see such a strong, bipartisan vote and I look forward to the governor’s signature.”


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